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Knives up Knorth, Posts from Vermont

Discussion in 'The Gallery' started by ChazzyP, Jul 16, 2018.

  1. ChazzyP

    ChazzyP Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Dec 27, 2014
    Hi All,

    I've never been over here at the Community Forums The Gallery before, but I wanted to post some pics and text about the part of our life we spend in Vermont and throw in some knife related stuff along the way. This seems like the best place for something like that. (Edit: Well it did--mods thought it belonged over here.)

    We bought our acreage and camp in the Upper Valley in 2010 and have been working to gradually improve the house, forest, access roads, and couple acres of abandoned fields. We're in the fairly remote northeastern section of a sleepy little town with a few houses, farms, woodlots, fields, and sugarbushes spread across the hills. Heading North is a rather vast expanse of mostly unpopulated forest which a hundred years ago had been productive farmland. Last summer we were lucky to be able to pick up another pice of land just up the road encompassing a beautiful woodland and the locally most prominent peaks facing eastward across the Connecticut River toward NH's White Mountains. We've got good friends among our closest neighbors whose homes and farms range from a quarter to a mile away. That's a bit of the backstory.

    This Spring and early summer, we've managed just three stays at camp as I'm working my way back from my hip replacement surgery. We headed up about 3 weeks post-operation in mid-April. While it was more-or-less Springtime here on the Cape there was about a foot of snow around the cabin, two feet in the woods, a glacier from the roof-fall in the dooryard, and six-foot piles of spoils from a winter's-worth of plowing.

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    We leave at least one screen door on all winter to vent excess heat from the wood stove when our old Vermont Castings Vigilant threatens to drive us out of the house. That way the cat doesn't get out to become an easy meal for some of the local wildlife.

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    I'd picked up this sweet KW Exclusive Millie from @91bravo before heading up and shot this pic out toward the woodshed from our little covered North entry.

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    I had to be wicked careful, picking my way around outside as I was early in my healing process. My lovely, kind, and most capable wife took care of most of the hauling in and out while I fiddled with knives...

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    ...and took care of the cooking and filled my face.

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    That makes for a long-enough start, so I'll sign off here and pick up again with our next time up the following month.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2018
  2. 91bravo

    91bravo Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 2008
    Damn! Here we are melting down here and you're wherever you are, playing in the snow....:p Looking forward to the next pics!
     
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  3. ChazzyP

    ChazzyP Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Dec 27, 2014
    Our next trip up was in mid-May. My re-hab and recovery from surgery was going really well. The strength in my legs had been good all along as I'd done considerable pre-hab leading into the operation, but I was still following post-surgical precautions and was greatly lacking in stamina. Nevertheless, I took my Festool track saw and a few extra tools up with me to tackle a project I'd been meaning to get to for a few years running.

    Our cabin had been built by the previous owner and her various husbands and, I suspect, paramours. It's reasonably solidly constructed, but there's a lot of amateur hour type stuff too, like the fact that one of the two foundation piers that were meant to flank the double doors on the South side was instead in between them. That left a 14-foot span of two floor-loads and the roof-load unsupported resulting in a wicked out-of-square opening and a non-functioning door. On top of that, some local druggie a-holes had busted that door breaking in. I'd given up trying to jack the house back up, so I trimmed the door, glued and screwed it back together, and fitted and installed the second of the screen doors I'd built but not yet installed. I had modern deadbolts already in, but re-set the striker plates, adjusted, and lubed the antique knob and latch sets that had been previously, though incompletely, installed. Check out the key hole in this old box latch....

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    The antique knob latches work fine, but I'm sticking with the modern deadbolts. :rolleyes: It's really nice to have both doors working right and to have them screened with a 6'x7' dose of pure country air wafting in. :)

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    A few knife pics shot along the way....

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  4. ChazzyP

    ChazzyP Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Dec 27, 2014
    There was no snow in May, @91bravo . ;) We were able to get the Polaris Ranger out and explore our two woodlands. It had been an odd and tough winter with super cold followed by a thaw, that followed by fairly late snow. There was a lot of wind, which is somewhat unusual, with a lot of tree breakage. We found this hanger over our road to the top on our upper acreage.

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    The top of a Beech snapped off, breaking and hanging up in another. The lower bole was twisted and split at the base and there are no good ways to drop something like this, but several ways for it to kill you if try. It doesn't look like much in the pic, but there's a lot of weight and force in that 14" diameter stem. We threw the strap around the crown of the upper, hooked it up to the Ranger's winch, and pulled on it until the bottom of the lower shattered and the whole affair came crashing down in the road.

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    We started cleaning up the mess, but left it for another time and drove up to the top for a view of the White Mountains to the East. On the right is the descending northern shoulder of Moosilauke with Black Mountain in the foreground and Loon in the distance. Mount Wolfe is in the center with the twin peaks of Kinsman to the north. All the way on the left is Mount Lincoln in the Franconia Range on the other side of the Notch.

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    Further north are the Presidentials, about 50 miles away as the crow flies and 100 miles by road. In the center mass is Washington on the right, Clay on its northern slope, then Jefferson and Adams. Madison is hiding behind the Balsam Fir growing out of our stone wall.

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    Here's our camp with J's Frontier in the foreground and our Ranger tucked under its shed roof to the right....

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    ....and my walkin' around the woods knife and a hearty meal.

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  5. d.r.h.

    d.r.h. Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 13, 2012
    Outstanding post Steve (forgive my sense of humor)!
     
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  6. ChazzyP

    ChazzyP Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Dec 27, 2014
    We're getting ready to head upcountry again this week--probably Thursday. I've been waiting for a somewhat cooler day to install the sub-rails I made on my exterior railing project which is surrounded by bluestone patio and shadeless. It'll be a little better tomorrow, so I'll get it done then.

    It's been just about a month since we've been up and there's always plenty on the to-do list. We need to finish the mowing on our North field on the lower acreage which was interrupted by some intermittency on the part of our Ranger. It would run fine for an hour or so, then just quit, only to start up again in 15 minutes or so like nothing was wrong in the first place. I did a bit of research and trouble-shooting without definitively finding any of the suggestions to be the culprit. I did find that the battery connections were shaky and a couple guys had written that caused similar problems in their machines, so I fixed those up and the old girl seems to have more pop to the starter, so hopefully that's it.

    Here's the Ranger in our dooryard last trip with our loging arch in the background...

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    ...and another pic from a few years ago with the arch toting a good-sized 10-foot birch log...

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    ...and a pic with the field mower when it was new in 2010. The Ranger was new to us that season, too, and had not yet had the roof or winch installed. The mower has a 44" cutting width using two rotary swing-arm blades powered by a 17 horse, two lung Kawasaki engine. I've since added the remote cable extension to get the controls up into the cab.

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    We didn't get any mowing done on the roadsides and field on the upper acreage last trip, but did manage to clean up the rest of the mess we left from downing the broken trees. We've still gotta take the arch up and pick up the stems to cut up for firewood. Note the difference in foliage between the mid-May pics in the previous post and the early July pic below.

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    We spent a lot of our time last trip hauling stuff up and back. You wouldn't think a guy that owns 4 trailers--boat, travel, dump, and construction box--would need to rent one, but we did take a little U-Haul box up with J's Frontier to carry a queen bed frame, foundation, and mattress along with 4 dining room chairs and 3 big awning windows for our future porch project. We brought back the double bed from our room and the old chairs, the latter going to my oldest son and the former up to our guest room.

    Here's the new-to-us chairs which K found at the transfer station gift house and the bed in our room.

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    Of course it wouldn't fit up he stairs, but there are advantages to having a partially finished cabin with only sub-floor throughout and no ceiling board in some areas.

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    As usual, I took some favorite knives with me to fondle...

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    ...work on...

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    ...and use.

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    Last edited: Aug 7, 2018
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  7. tech25

    tech25

    117
    Dec 20, 2012
    Amazing write up, thanks for bringing us along!

    You have an awesome bunch of knives as well.
     
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  8. ChazzyP

    ChazzyP Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Dec 27, 2014
    We had a nice week up North in mid-August after dealing with a terrible hot-stretch and the worst summer traffic I can remember here on the Cape. We ran into an awful, highway-closing accident on the way out (not unusual this year, unfortunately) and it took us almost three hours to get off. Makes us love our woods, hills, solitude, and cool evenings in Vermont even more.

    Anyway, we mostly mowed and did some edge-clearing this time. We've got two smallish fields on our original piece that we've been working to restore and hope each year to get a bit more done. Both were trending from early succession to pioneer growth and both are at the downhill ends of old hillside fields and are thus pretty wet and sprout willow as well as the usual cherry, poplars, spruce, and white or scotch pine. The forest trees--maple, beech, ash--seed and grow saplings at the edges, further shrinking all the work begun and maintained over a couple hundred years or more.

    For context, here's a shot across the North Field at a very sympathetic angle before we first mowed in Sept of 2010...

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    ...which doesn't look too bad until you swing the camera to the right and see all the Willow and other growth.

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    We were in deep.

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    You can see how much woody growth got chopped up in the first mowing--brush-hogged, actually, as our tow-behind will take down up to 2" saplings.

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    The following summer, in early July before mowing, you can see the good grass coming back.

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    A great improvement, but if you don't get back to it, it reverts again quickly. Our forester Markus says, "The forest always wins." We'd neglected our little south field a bit, and had to take down a couple poplars with the chainsaw that had sprung up, battling substantial regrowth in those few thousand square feet across our little dug brook that we hadn't touch for two or three years. Of course, once you've mowed there are always rocks to pull and cart away, as the frost pushes up more to break the surface and whack your blades every year. This from a few years ago...

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    You'll note how clear the forest edge is above as compared to approximately the same area in pic 4 above. Lots of work cutting, hauling, and making a brush pile out of all those saplings, also at an earlier time.

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    What we were most interested in doing, though was mowing the acre hilltop field on the new land along with the berms and center of our awesome crushed bluestone drive from the neglected town road up to it. I'd also been playing text-tag since last season with the forester who works for the neighboring timber company that holds about a thousand acres and abuts us on the east and north to see if we could drop a few boundary trees that partially obscure our view towards the Garfield Range and up into the Southern Presidentials. You can see those on the left in this pic that also shows the field as yet un-mowed.

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    We got to meet, walked the line a bit along the stone wall, and I got his ok to drop all but one of those I'd flagged along with a couple more. Those in the front rank are ours, but it makes little sense to drop 'em without taking the taller ashes and maples behind. The hill drops off real fast below the line so that should preserve the view for many years. That's a good project for next spring before the leaves pop.

    We mowed up there the day before and got the upper half of the field done, which was more than the previous owner had managed the last couple years. There are still some stumps left in the lower half from when more of the field was reclaimed in 2006, some dead spruces to take out, and it's quite a bit steeper too, so we left that part for another time.

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    The upper half looks nice all cut later on the next day...

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    ...and earlier, after I met with the MTL forester, with the Connecticut River Valley full of whipped cream, like most summer morns.

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    This is a long post, but it is "Knives up Knorth", and the light was nice for pics while working on the mower and Ranger at the cabin, so here's some steel to finish things off.

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    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
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  9. RedFury

    RedFury Gold Member Gold Member

    245
    Jun 17, 2015
    Hey, I can't yet figure out exactly where you are but doesn't matter. Grew up in VT long time ago. Those hill top meadows are pretty special. It's amazing to look at old photos and see how high up the hills the meadows used to run. Imagine the work it took those before us to build those stone walls that we now find buried in the trees?

    I have not been back to VT for many years but have a trip scheduled for the first weekend of Oct to put my mother's ashes on the family plot where they belong. Mom has been residing on my bookshelf far too long but she is a patient and understanding woman. I'm confident she understands the time demands of running a business and getting her grandchildren educated. Who knows? Maybe she actually enjoys being on the bookshelf but I guarantee she wants to rest alongside my Dad.

    On a practical note...... for goodness sakes Man, get yourself a skid steer The Ranger is fine for getting around the property.
    I use a Gator every day myself but I have built a hundred acre farm with one poor old Bobcat and a 50 Hp Mahindra tractor over the past 18 years. When it comes to moving rocks and trees a skid steer is the way to go. Get a wood splitter to plug into the remotes. Get a grapple to pile the brush. If you can stand the cost, a hydraulic mower is the ultimate attachment. My buddy has a forestry mower that eats anything in its path.
     
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  10. RedFury

    RedFury Gold Member Gold Member

    245
    Jun 17, 2015
    I'm guessing around Fairlee Vt? Your view is toward Rumney NH where my mother's father grew up.
     
  11. makandr

    makandr Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Oct 7, 2006
    Very nice post!
     
  12. colin.p

    colin.p

    334
    Feb 4, 2017
    Wow, what a beautiful place. I live out in the sticks and could never understand why people (who also live out in the sticks) would also have a cottage/cabin somewhere else, but I could really get used to staying there in a hurry.
    Nice write up, oh and nice knives too...
     
  13. ChazzyP

    ChazzyP Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Dec 27, 2014
    You're real close--one town north and one town west in East Topsham. Pretty much due west of Haverhill and Benton, NH.

    We're getting by with the tow-behind mower, but plan to buy a tractor as funds allow--hopefully next year. We're planning on a selective logging for the lower property this winter and will see what that nets us--certainly not the total price, but hopefully enough to help.

    Our forestry plan under Vermont's "current use" program calls for a harvest by 2020 and the timing is right with white ash prices still up and the arrival of the dreaded Emerald Ash Borer (imported into Chicago several years ago on Chinese pallets) in our county this past year. Our forester is working on finding the right logger for us and we'll harvest sugar maple as well, even though the price isn't great right now, selling some and keeping a couple thousand feet to mill locally for floors and stairs in the cabin. Probably take some softwood in the bottom stand along with pulp and firewood, mostly for the health of the woods.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2018 at 8:21 AM
  14. RedFury

    RedFury Gold Member Gold Member

    245
    Jun 17, 2015
    Made the VT trip. It was excellent. Shared with my wife and our three grown children and one 12 year old grandson. Revisited the places I grew up. Showed my grandson some secret hiding places that nobody had discovered in over fifty years. Had a bottle of gunpowder stashed in one of them. On an a total whim we pulled into Clearlake Furniture in Ludlow on Sunday morning. They unlocked and let us in. Unbelievable craftsmanship there. They make some real special pieces from maple with tap holes in it. Your maple might be worth some $ over there. The other most interesting thing was a patch of Hemp on the side of the road. We smelled it before we saw it. Not even a fence around it, just a sign stating it was Hemp with no TCH so Please Don't Mess with it.
     
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  15. ChazzyP

    ChazzyP Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Dec 27, 2014
    Glad you got to make your trip, @RedFury , and thanks for posting. It's nice that you had the chance to share the old places with family. I wasn't exactly sure where Ludlow was and had to Google it. It's not too far from where my parents lived in Hartland for quite a few years.

    I've still got to pull together and edit my pics from our last trip up three weeks ago and add another post here. That was our firewood harvest trip, pulling in a dozen or so saw logs for next season. We'll get back up soon to buck and split, cycling the woodshed with the already seasoned wood toward the front to get us through our times up this winter.
     
  16. ChazzyP

    ChazzyP Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Dec 27, 2014
    We've been back on-Cape for about 3 weeks now and I've finally found the time to get my pics moved over and edited. It's been real busy here with things ramping up for the youth basketball season and all the prep I have to do for both the league and our club I administer. My middle son got married this past weekend, so that's been going on too, though he and his lovely bride really did all the prep and organization themselves with some help and the $ support of the two families. Mostly we had to store stuff ahead of time and then the families and some friends pitched in to set up the facility the day before and strike everything after. Just a great day with the ceremony down by the pond and a super party in sort of a lodge-hall they rented. Sweet!

    Anyway, our last trip was devoted to bringing in shortish log-lengths of American Beech and Sugar Maple that had previously downed by either Mother Nature or us or some combination of the two. Some came from the nasty, twisted Maple we took down earlier from behind the platform at the edge of the field on the upper acreage...

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    ...some from the two beeches that were left broken and hanging over the winter in our stone drive up to the top there which we'd pulled down, cleaned up, and left set aside in May and July (Posts #3 and #6), and the rest from a tall maple that had been down near the cabin but suspended just off the ground for the last couple years. Here are two lengths of beech just dropped off under the log-arch at our landing.

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    I'd spent some time fine tuning my 45-year-old Jonsereds 49SP to take up along with my now-2-season-old Jonny CS2258 Turbo, but we ran out of room in Judy's truck for it and its basket, so I ended up leaving it behind this time. Still a great saw that runs like a top after all these years. Next trip in a week or two we'll buck up what we took in this time, bring the splitter along to bust it up, and cycle and stock the shed. The new stuff in the back will be ready enough if we need it by the Spring and we've got enough carry-over to keep us warm over our times up this winter. Here's the old saw in my shop down here...

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    ...and this year's modest, but sufficient haul...

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    ...in addition to a small run that we bucked up in the road to the top field and brought down in the back of the Ranger.

    We were able to spend part of a day continuing our edge-clearing behind the old tent platform at the top of the new field. We started a fresh brush pile back in the woods with some saplings we'd left down from last trip, those that were fresh cut this time, plus all the lower limbs from a big dead pine just behind that maple we took. We'll get that and a lot of stuff in that area cleaned up over time as some pines and much of the Eastern White Cedar there have aged out or blown over. There's always more to do and new trees coming up to take their place, so we'll keep on keepin' on. Like Marcus says, the forest always wins.

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    We have also started our new dump-chair project wherein our youngest son finds sturdy old wooden chairs in his town's "gift section" at their transfer station and we take them to Vermont to sit on our platform to rest and look at the view.

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    The northern border of newer, upper parcel runs down the center of a now-deserted town road. All the roads in our little burg are gravel/dirt save for the two-lane State Highways along the South and North and two roads that conjoin at the town's eastern village and run north/south between the two highways. Otherwise, there are about 50 miles of Class 3 and 4 (maintained/plowed and not so) "town highways" unpaved. Our north border section is one of 4 or 5 legs that have existed used or unused on and off for a couple hundred years, the remaining town designated section and older legs being T.H. 31. I've seen these sections on maps old and new, though our leg shows now either as a trail ("jeep" or otherwise) or not at all. Our part is about a third of a mile and is bounded along its length by a fairly substantial stone wall, our woods having been fields up until maybe a hundred years ago. The road is still quite passable by UTV, Jeep, or 4WD.

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    The pics above are heading East in succession along the road's middle third. The bright green triangle on the tree on the right in the 3rd pic indicates that the road was once on the VAST trail designated by the Vermont Assoc of Snow Travelers--cool name. The snowmobile trail now runs along the Southern edge of our parcel. In the last pic above, there's a wide stile in the stone wall to the right of the last clear section you can see which accesses the old farm road that's one of two back ways in and leads to the meadow on our eastern hilltop.

    Fall weather is much clearer looking out over our view, as the moisture is not drawn up from the fields, woods, and Connecticut River to the East. We got some nice looks at the NH mountains earlier in our last time up.

    Here's the great mass of Mt Moosilauke due east, with Black and Little Black Mountain in the foreground left and the Sugarloaf foreground center transitioning to the right into the ridge formed by the Hogsback, Jeffers and Blueberry Mountains.

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    In the distance, between the northern slope of Moosilauke and the southern slope of the smaller Mount Wolf are the two peaks of Loon and Big Coolidge way over in Lincoln, NH.

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    The twin peaks of Kinsman on this side of Franconia Notch.

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    And the Northern Presidentials, fifty miles away--right-to-left, Washington, Clay, Jefferson, and Adams.

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    Back down below, at the cabin, this is a look down what we call The Lane, heading past our little log landing toward our Muddy Creek and Beech Brook, which rise on our neighbors' ridge across the way and are fed through the marsh between our small southern field and camp. You can see the contrast in the leaf color up high on the hill, which turned a lot in the 5 days we were up, and the understory which is largely green, especially lower, which is affected by elevation, exposure, and species. Lots of beech saplings in the understory, the beeches which turn later too.

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    Our last day, I took the logging arch back over to our neighbor's farm. Charlie kindly lets me keep it in a bay in his equipment shed out-of-season. The barn in the distance goes back a couple hundred years and this 200 acres has been worked continuously since it was begun as part of a 500 hundred acre farm founded by the family who came from Salem, MA after some years in NH.

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    A small portion of the "flerd" in the corral next to the barn--Devon Cattle and Khatadin Sheep. Cattle and sheep graze together, entirely on grass, cycled from field-to-field from one section of moveable, solar-powered electric fence to the next. These guys have been cut out from the the much larger group and I suspect they may be meat by the time of this writing.

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    Well, that's an awful long post after I finally got to it. It is "Knives up Knorth", though, so I'll close with a couple shots of my Hati, which I carried most days up there, posed with a little smattering of Fall color...

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    ...my Cheburkov Scout, which I took along to work on its action...

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    ...and my two WC CRKs on our little deck out front.

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    Last edited: Oct 22, 2018 at 5:17 PM
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  17. RedFury

    RedFury Gold Member Gold Member

    245
    Jun 17, 2015
    Thanks for another beautiful post. I've been off the forum quite a bit of late. Crazy stuff going on. Since the VT trip I've rebuilt parts of the flat filling machine for the nursery, done groom duty of my daughter's Eventing competition where she had a fabulous run and came in second, hosted a wedding for a longtime friend, taken on a new job dispatching trucks for my older daughter, and gotten the ancient Cat D5 dozer moving again. Another word of advice on equipment and land. Don't get involved with really old equipment. It's quite romantic to save something from the scrap yard but if you want to get something done just go rent a good machine. The bearings went out of one front idler wheel on the dozer. Massive job to replace it and the ONLY replacement we could find was another worn out wheel from WV. Spent an entire day cutting the centers out of the two wheels to swap them and make one decent wheel. Have a new project too (don't I always?) Would like to built a Cohousing project similar to Nubanusit up there in Peterboro, NH.
     
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  18. ChazzyP

    ChazzyP Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Dec 27, 2014
    Thanks for your post and thoughts, @RedFury . I have lots of tools and gear related to my 47 year tenure as a home builder. I get what you're saying about old equipment and do not find anything romantic about procuring or rehabbing it. I have a lot of respect and admiration for how older tools are built and little patience with the disposability of newer-made gear, but expect to pick up any one of my tools and have it function as it should. What frustrates me is having bought professional-grade tools, some 40-years-old or more that will last as long as you can find replacement/wear parts and not being able to do so because the companies have been sold or moved overseas and the parts are no longer available. That cycle of unavailability gets shorter and shorter as time passes and a ten-year-old nail gun can be rendered useless if you can't find a new driver, nose, or whatever. I do like repairing and maintaining my stuff and will search out parts, but the new ethos is to throw something out and buy a new one. :mad:

    Up North, everything is so spread out and it's hard to find any suppliers. Gear in the fields and forest up there gets used hard and when something breaks down it's not just tough to find a part or someone to repair, your gear can be stuck in the woods with no way to get it out. When I do get a tractor, it will be through a local servicing dealer up there, whether new or used, and will be a late model for sure. Our closest Polaris dealer-service-parts for the Ranger was fifteen miles away and they've closed, leaving us 40 miles out. Parts for my mower are on the other side of the state.
     

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